• New retail floor space to hit four-year high in 2017
  • More than 2.7m of additional space will open next year
  • New space marks the biggest spike since 2013, when Trinity Leeds opened

New retail space from shopping centre openings and revamps will reach a four-year high in 2017, according to a report being published today.

More than 2.7m sq ft of additional floor space is under construction and due to open next year.

According to Cushman & Wakeman’s UK Shopping Centre Development Report – seen exclusively by Retail Week – that is the largest amount of floor space to be added in a single year since 2013, when Trinity Leeds threw open its doors.

The spike in retail and leisure space will be driven by six new developments, the largest of which is the 580,000 sq ft Lexicon in Bracknell.

The remaining new space will be made up eight extensions and redevelopments of existing shopping centres, including the 740,000 sq ft extension at Westfield London and the revamped Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford, adding 488,600 sq ft of new space.

Shopping centre floor space remained static in the first half of 2016, but a total of 1.4m sq ft is due to open across 10 schemes by the end of the year, the report from commercial property agents Cushman & Wakefield added.

The developments including Victoria Gate in Leeds and Bond Street in Chelmsford, both of which will be anchored by John Lewis.

Cushman & Wakefield head of shopping centre development John Percy said: “In football parlance, this has been a year of two halves. After a quiet first six months, we will see schemes completing up and down the country and 2017 will be busier still.

“More than half of this new space consists of extensions to, or refurbishments of, existing centres, reflecting the additional risks and costs of establishing a new build project and taking it through the development process.”

Percy added that the “inexorable rise of leisure” within retail developments will continue to be a trend, with leisure now accounting for almost a fifth of units in the UK’s top 30 shopping centres.

“Developers are devoting more space to leisure in new build schemes following the lead of successful schemes such as Grand Central Birmingham,” Percy added.

“This is an international as well as national trend, and we await some of the new leisure trends that are starting to emerge that will help drive the next generation of customer engagement.”

Cushman & Wakefield head of retail Justin Taylor added that prime retail vacancy rates were low despite uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU.

He added that the retail market was “looking in a healthier condition than it has for a long time to deal with the uncertainty of the Referendum result.”